Social Security Disability

Deborah Fertel Photo

Our Chicago Social Security Disability lawyers may be able to help you recover benefits. If you suffer from an illness or injury and are unable to work for at least 12 consecutive months, you may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Benefits. Applying for these benefits can be done simply through an online application process or at your local Social Security office. Actually receiving the benefits you are entitled to, however, is far from simple. Unfortunately, most applications for Social Security Disability are denied at the first two levels of decision making. Having your claim denied does not mean that your claim is invalid. You need to hire an experienced Social Security Disability attorney in Chicago who is knowledgeable about Social Security rules to help you obtain the benefits you are deserve.

At Katz Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck, we are experienced in handling Social Security Disability claims. Our attorneys understand what medical information the Administrative Law Judge needs to make a favorable decision. Whether you are filing a claim for the first time or you need assistance in filing your appeal, our firm can help protect your rights and ensure that your claim has a fair hearing.

Social Security Disability pays benefits to people who are unable to work because of a disability. To qualify, you must meet a strict definition, which includes a finding that:

  • You have severe physical or mental impairment;
  • The impairment results in marked limitations;
  • These limitations prevent you from doing any substantial gainful work; and,
  • The disability is expected to last or has lasted at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.
Understanding “Disability”

Social Security Disability is based on your inability to work. You will be considered disabled if you cannot do the work you did before and Social Security decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s). Your disability also must last or be expected to last for at least a year or to result in death.

Social Security Disability is different from a private Short or Long Term Disability or Sickness and Accident policy you may receive through your employer. It is also different from workers’ compensation benefits.

Some programs pay for partial disability or for short-term disability if you cannot work for your employer. Social Security does not. To be found disabled, you must prove inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity.

Helpful Facts

The Social Security Administration has a strict definition of “Disability” that ignores many real-life aspects such as: difficulty finding a job in the economy, thinking that no one will hire you with your condition, believing you could not pass a job-required physical, or even knowing that the pay you would receive is too little to live on. All of these real-world considerations do not matter to the SSA when evaluating your claim.

As is the case with most legal claims, what counts in disability evaluations is what you can prove. If no medical records exist to support your claim of disability, you are unlikely to be successful. The SSA figures that if your medical condition is severe enough to keep you from working the medical records will support this.

Consistency, accuracy, and honesty are all very important. Contradictions, errors, memory lapses, and discrepancies all work to erode your credibility, and nothing will sink your claim faster than questions about your truthfulness.

Recent statistics from the Social Security Administration show that the majority of Social Security Disability applications are denied. In 2010, 65% of all claims were denied on the initial application; 87% were denied at the Reconsideration level. At the Hearing level, when your case is before the Administrative Law Judge, 62% of claims were actually approved. This is because for the very first time in the application process you are able to testify as to how your disability restricts your life and impairs your ability to work. The hearing is the best opportunity to present evidence of your disability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much does it cost to hire an attorney for my disability case?

A: Lawyer’s fees are limited to 25% of past due disability benefits up to a maximum of $6,000. There is no retainer fee or up-front costs. There is also no fee if you lose.

Q: If I win my case how much money will I receive?

A: The amount you will receive will depend on the amount of back benefits you receive and your disability benefit rate, which will be different for every individual.

Q: Will I receive medical insurance?

A: If you are awarded disability benefits, you will be eligible for Medicare coverage after a waiting period of 24 months.

Q: How long does it take to obtain benefits?

A: This will also vary. We are able to obtain benefits for some people on the initial application. Other cases require a hearing from the Administrative Law Judge which can take much longer.

Should I hire a Lawyer?

An experienced Chicago Social Security Disability attorney can guide you through the red tape and make sure your case is properly presented. Statistics from the Social Security Administration show that claimants who are represented by lawyers win more often than those without an attorney. A Social Security disability hearing is held in front of an Administrative Law Judge. While shorter than a traditional court trial and much less formal, a Social Security Disability hearing requires skill and training in medicine and law.

Many of the Social Security Disability cases we handle are for past or existing clients we have represented in workers’ compensation or personal injury cases, but we are happy to represent new clients as well. Our firm has a long history of fighting for the rights of injured workers that spans more than half a century. Our attorneys have established incomparable reputations for their knowledge of the law and ability to deliver results to our clients. If you believe you have a Social Security Disability claim, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at our Chicago firm to discuss your situation. We offer a free initial consultation, and we only charge if we win.